Police investigating the mysterious death of an MI6 agent, whose body was discovered in unusual circumstances in his London flat, suspect he was murdered and that his killers returned to his apartment through a skylight to hide the evidence.
The body of British spy Gareth Williams, 31, was found padlocked in a holdall bag in his bath by detectives in August 2010.
Precise details of his work remain cloaked in secrecy, but sources allege he worked with equipment that tracked financial flows from Russia to Europe. The technology supposedly allowed MI6 to analyze money trails from Russian bank accounts to criminal syndicates in Europe.
Fresh revelations relating to his death surfaced Saturday, after a source told the Daily Mail that Scotland Yard officials believe an agent from another secret service broke into his apartment to conceal the evidence.
The new claim alleges that forensic equipment laid down in the flat after Williams’ body was discovered was moved while the building remained under the surveillance of armed police.
Special footplates, which enable detectives to make their way across a crime scene without causing contamination, were repositioned just over a day into the investigation.
After discovering this fact, Scotland Yard officials concluded the building’s walls had been scaled and Williams’ flat had been broken into via the skylight.
The force also drew the conclusion that those who had intruded had done so out of desperation to cover their tracks.
The police investigation at the time concluded that Williams died accidentally after a sex game went wrong.
But this latest line of inquiry contradicts these findings and raises fresh questions about how Williams, a skilled cryptographer with a high aptitude for mathematics, was killed.
The spy had been working alongside the US National Security Agency (NSA) in Washington before making his way to London, where he was given specialist training and dispatched on spy missions.
It has been suggested Williams was murdered by CIA or MI6 agents after uncovering sensitive data or after threatening to publish clandestine intelligence.
Another theory discussed in the UK media is that Williams may have disrupted a crime ring linked to Russian officials. Cars registered to the Russian Embassy were seen near his Pimlico apartment several days before his body was found, while a Russian-linked car was reportedly seen near his flat the day he was murdered, the Daily Mail reports.
Both theories were dismissed by Scotland Yard in late 2010.
Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox sharply criticized MI6 for neglecting to report that Williams had been missing for seven days. Wilcox, who presided over the 2012 inquest into his death, said MI6’s failure to contact his family sooner caused them additional suffering and led to a loss of valuable forensic evidence.
The delay, for which MI6 offered an apology, also meant a pathologist hired by the Home Office was unable to uncover the cause of Williams’ death.
Wilcox came to the conclusion that Williams’ death was “unnatural and likely to have been criminally meditated.” She added that “on the balance of probabilities … Gareth was killed unlawfully” because it was unlikely he had locked himself inside the bag in which he was found.
However, in 2013 the Met’s investigation into Williams’ death came to a close, after detectives concluded he had locked himself in the bag as part of a sex game.
Despite this, Williams’ family has long believed his flat was “steam-cleaned” by spies after his death. Since the spy’s case was reopened, Scotland Yard’s latest inquiry appears to support this theory. The Williams’ family lawyer, Anthony O’Toole, previously told a pre-inquest hearing he believed a third party was present when Williams died and subsequently removed the evidence.
“The impression of the family is that the unknown third party was a member of some agency specializing in the dark arts of the secret services, or evidence has been removed post-mortem,” he told the Westminster Coroner’s Court in 2012.
In the aftermath of Williams’ death, the coroner was not informed that the footplates had been moved or of detectives’ suspicion that the spy’s flat had been broken into.
“The forensics officer was adamant that nobody was allowed in or out of the crime scene, so when he turned up the following day to find the footplates had been moved an investigation was launched. The only way anybody could have got into that building was to have scaled the walls and got in through the skylight,” an intelligence source told the Daily Mail.
“This was never revealed, as it was pretty embarrassing for the Met. Somebody appears to have broken in, perhaps cleaned up and got out again while officers were guarding the entrance to the flat.”